Two thousand date palm trees in the Falahiyeh county area of Al-Ahwaz were destroyed in a massive wildfire on Wednesday, which reduced the trees, whose fruits were about to be harvested, to ashes.
The head of the local Department of Agriculture, Hamid Matroodi, said that the blaze which began on Wednesday morning continued until that night, citing a lack of firefighting equipment and access roads to enable firefighters to reach the area.
The official explained that the blaze broke out and spread quickly due to a combination of factors, including intense heat and drought in the area. Adding to the farmers’ woes, Matroodi confirmed that the regime will not pay compensation because only the harvested dates are insured, not the palm trees themselves. Experts in the area believe that one of the primary causes of the drought, the latest of a number in recent years, is the regime’s diversion of rivers in the Ahwazi Arab areas to Persian regions of the country.
This is the latest catastrophic loss for farmers in Falahiyeh County, where tens of thousands of date palm trees have been destroyed in recent years by drought or by arson; this is believed to be part of a regime policy to drive the farmers out of business and force them to leave the area as part of the regime’s ethnic cleansing of Arab areas.
Matroodi also said that 30 percent of the remaining date palms in Falahiyeh County are withered and in danger of dying due to the severity of the drought. Date farming is a primary source of income for farmers in the county, with the dates being exported to Europe, Arabian Gulf nations, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kazakhstan.